If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
This seems to be the guiding principle for Snap Inc.’s relentless pursuit to make its Spectacles camera glasses A Thing. Despite two versions of Spectacles, each of which got a lukewarm response, the company is reportedly planning to release a new $350 version by the end of this year with two cameras. The new specs will also capable of augmented reality when connected to the Snapchat app.
According to Cheddar, Spectacles 3 will have a frame made of aluminum. The two cameras will enable the wearable to be able to create “augmented reality effects in videos.”
But don’t get too excited just yet. The new Spectacles themselves won’t be able to overlay augmented reality effects on top of what you see through the lenses in real time.
No, you’ll still need to use the Snapchat app to “overlay AR lenses and create 3D-like photo effects from footage taken by the Spectacles,” according to Snap insiders who spoke to Cheddar.
It sounds kinda half-assed in my opinion, but it’s apparently a stopgap release until Snap CEO Evan Spiegel figures out how to make smart eyewear with the AR tech built right in.
Cheddar also claims the company is lowering its internal expectations for the new Spectacles, with plans to only manufacture about 24,000 pairs, which is less than the estimated 35,000 Spectacles 2 and 52,000 more premium Spectacles 2 the company had produced.
As someone who reviewed the original pair and found them fun, but not sustainable for daily use (even for diehard Snapchat users), I’m super skeptical of the new one.
$350 is pretty steep for a pair of sunglasses (with cameras or not) and Snapchat’s core audience — mostly teenagers — haven’t exactly taken to its cheapest $150 Spectacles 2. What makes Snapchat think this same cash-strapped demographic will spend more than double for what sounds like another novel gimmick?
Spiegel’s obsession with molding Snap, Inc. into a “camera company” might ultimately be its own undoing.
Perhaps Snap’s trying to cater to an older audience, but anyone watching the race between Snapchat and Instagram knows the latter has already left the other in its dust. Anecdotally, it feels like everyone’s mom and grandpa is on Instagram and they’re almost certainly not on Snapchat. That’s no surprise since it’s essentially Facebook in hipper clothes.
Spiegel’s obsession with molding Snap, Inc. into a “camera company” might ultimately be its own undoing. It’s quite possible he’s trying to get a leg up on tech companies like Facebook, which has repeatedly and openly said it is building augmented reality-equipped eyewear and plans to release them in the next few years.
Similarly, Apple has been rumored a great many times to be secretly working on AR glasses as well.
Getting ahead of the pack would put Snap in an enviable position with a track record for creating computerized consumer eyewear. But alas, that’s not how hit products always work; being first doesn’t equate to success. Making the best product — one with clear and purposeful value for our connected lives — usually does and is worth the wait.
While Snapchat continues to lose users, it’s worth questioning where the company’s priorities are. Getting the much-anticipated Android app redesign out the door should be at the top of the list; Spectacles seem like a distraction at best right now.
I don’t know what Snap’s thinking with plans to sell yet another pair of Spectacles, but I hope they know something we don’t. Because it’d be sad to see Snap destroy itself over such seemingly novel camera glasses.